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Remarks by Governor Wolf at Launch of “It’s On Us” National Spring Week of Action

April 06, 2016

University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

TRANSCRIPT:

[cheer]

I take it, that wasn’t for me?

Listen, I am very pleased to be here.

Let me just do a shout out to Vice President Joe Biden, he’s going to be here in just a minute.

You know, he represented, as a U. S. Senator, for so many distinguished years, the state of Delaware.

But he was born in Pennsylvania.

He’s a native son, so when he comes on here, I want you to give him a warm Pennsylvania welcome back home.

You’ll also hear from a few people here.

I am really proud to be a part of the “It’s on Us” campaign. This is the Week of Action

and PA is the first state to adopt and to participate in this.

This initiative has three goals

First, to improve awareness, prevention, reporting
and response systems in the commonwealth.

Second, to remove or at least reduce barriers
that prevent survivors from reporting sexual assault.

And third, to demonstrate that we are committed
– at all levels – to the task of eradicating

this scourge from every part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

[applause]

This campaign is very important.

We need to treat sexual assault in our schools and colleges as the serious problem it truly is.

We need to agree that we are not going to
put up with this any longer.

That’s because sexual assault has a corrosive
effect on all of us.

It clearly affects its survivors.

It affects the friends, colleagues and family
members of the survivor.

It affects all of us

and it happens a lot.

Sexual violence is unfortunately pervasive
in our society.

It affects an estimated 1 in 5 college women.

Nearly 20% of young women between the ages
of 14 and 17 are sexually assaulted,

mostly by someone the survivor knows and trusts,

a classmate,

a supposed friend,

a relative, or even a family member.

The impact is serious and widespread.

First of all, sexual assault – wherever
it occurs – clearly imposes a huge burden

on the survivors

The individual consequences are clear

Survivors are more likely to experience immediate
and long-term health issues like:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – 94%,

Depression – 75%,

Suicidal tendencies – 35-50%.

Survivors are more likely than their peers
to abuse alcohol.

They are more likely to drop out of school.

They are likely to have a lower GPA in college.

All of which leads to an average reduction
in lifetime income of over $240,000.

That’s a $15.1 billion cost for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
over the lives of these survivors.

So there are clear costs to the survivors
of sexual assault

But, there are also clear costs to those living
and studying around them.

When someone else is sexually assaulted it reflects – and often reinforces – a number

of negative forces.

It promotes a culture of unfairness and discrimination.

It feeds on the pernicious idea that some
people have clearer rights than others.

That some are more equal than others.

It builds an environment of fear among the community of friends, acquaintances and neighbors

who know of the survivor’s ordeal

and this inhibits and restricts freedom of
action on the part of that entire community.

Sexual assault places a barrier between people who have become concerned about the possibility

of sexual assault and those with whom they might otherwise interact freely

It dampens the open exchange of everything from ideas to feelings.

Finally, sexual assault reduces the quality
of life for us all.

Safety is a fundamental civil right and sexual assault

is a clear violation of that civil right.

When that violation occurs for any member
of a community, it occurs for every member

of that community.

It violates the right of everyone to a safe
society.

A society in which sexual assault is a big
problem.

Is a society in which the core values we claim
to hold dear – life, liberty and the pursuit

of happiness – are little more that empty
words.

We need to end sexual assault.

To this end, I have directed my administration
to address this problem over the course of

the next year.

We have great partners in this effort.

Over 200 colleges, universities and school
districts in Pennsylvania have signed the

pledge, right now, to join the “It’s on Us” campaign –that’s a great thing.

Since January, over 400 people have taken the pledge in Pennsylvania

and the hope is that many more will continue to join us.

We also have a network of 50 rape crisis centers across the state ready and willing

to work with our schools, colleges and universities.

I am determined to make Pennsylvania a shining
example to the rest of the world as to what

committed citizens can do to make our world better.

It’s truly on all of us to accomplish this.

Let’s keep working.

Thank you very much.

Now

Now I know the great greeting you gave me

was not for me.

I would like to introduce the person you really meant to give a shout out to.

I’m very proud to turn the podium over
to Matt McGorry.

Matt is an actor. He’s best known for his role in Orange is the New Black.

But he’s also an ardent champion of the civil rights of all americans,

to what I said was a fundamental right,

the right to a safe life.

So please welcome,

give a great Pennsylvania shout out to Matt McGorry.


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